Eco-marathon: A platform for young innovators to showcase their talent

Eco-marathon: A platform for young innovators to showcase their talent

By ANIRUDH VOHRA | | 5 March, 2016
Team DTU Supermileage from the Delhi Technical University.

It is often said that colleges and institutes in India focus more on theoretical know-how than the practical or physical attributes of education. This lacuna or limitation is emphasised so much that the celebrated bollywood movie 3 Idiots also took up the topic. But things seem to be changing rapidly as most colleges now have a special cell or department that help the students use this theoretical know-how in a practical manner.    

This story talks about one such group of students that have taken their book knowledge to the floor and created a working prototype that will be participating in the Shell Eco-marathon 2016.

A team of seven members, led by Vibor Gupta, called DTU Supermileage is one of the 10 teams that will be representing India in the seventh edition of the Shell Eco-marathon Asia that is to be held in the heart of Manila, Philippines from 3 – 6 March.

Nehal Jajal, Shubham Garg, Harshit Arya, Akash Sharma, Vineet Mathew and Bhavy Dikshit are the other members while Atul Kumar Agrawal is the team’s faculty advisor. 

DTU Supermileage was established in 2005 keeping in mind the looming threat posed by future fuel crisis and was the first team from India to develop a Supermileage vehicle. The team aims to develop a vehicle which explores the maximum mileage that can be achieved from a single litre of gasoline and at the same time reduce the impact of gasoline powered vehicles on the environment without the need for major cost.

“Previously our team had participated in SAE Supermileage competition and from there on, we have been participating at the Shell Ecomarathon Asia since 2012,” said team leader Vibor Gupta.

About the energy efficient vehicle designed by team DTU Supermileage,  Gupta said, “Our vehicle has been designed with the primary aim of conserving as much energy as possible. We have used aluminum parts and a glass fiber body to make it lightweight. The vehicle also has a custom designed transmission which ensures that the power generated by the engine is efficiently utilised and all the electrical components installed in the car need least amount of energy to operate. The prime feature of our vehicle, which makes it energy efficient, is the body which has been designed in such way that its drag coefficient is minimum. (The drag coefficient is a dimensionless quantity that is used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in a fluid environment, such as air or water). Additionally, all frictional losses are kept to a minimum by using suitable bearings. All the factors used invariably make the vehicle energy-efficient.”

The team has used Greek letter to denote the fourth version of the chassis, the number 8 denotes the eighth version of body and SMV standing for supermileage vehicle,  that’s how the vehicle got its name — SMV δ 8.

As per the team, the initial designing phase of the entire vehicle components were carried out on a Computer Aided Software (CAD) Solidworks, following which the 3D models were analysed on Ansys, an engineering software. They were then further optimised. Once the designs were finalised, all the components were manufactured using the 3D models and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. The chassis of the vehicle was built of aluminum parts by welding them together, for which Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding was chosen amongst many welding options. Molds for the body were prepared from foam and finished with plaster of Paris. Fiber glass was laid on the moulds and then cured to give the shape of the body. Electronic fuel injection system was installed to control the fuel intake of the engine very precisely. This system was fine-tuned by installing an Accurate Lambda Meter (ALM) and conducting various tests.

Talking about the feasibility of the project in terms of funding, technology and competition, Gupta said, “Our vehicle has been built on a limited budget, which makes it feasible to adapt to different commercial sectors. We have also used latest available technology to deliver best results. The material and mechanisms used in the vehicle are well established and certain to give combined results, so as to magnify the final output, i.e. the enhanced mileage of the vehicle.”

The participating vehicle SMV δ 8. was completed in one year including the designing phase, prototype tests, optimising phase and the final phase of integrating all the finished components. The vehicle was also tested within the time frame.

As per the team, the driving force behind the conceptualisation of this idea was, “with oil reserves depleting at a fast rate in India, the need of the hour is to conserve fuel and use energy efficient technology. Keeping in mind the fact that huge amount of energy is wasted due to less efficient combustion engines, we have conceptualised our prototype. In addition to this, rising air pollution propelled us to think of how vehicular emissions can be reduced, making the air cleaner and thus preventing respiratory problems. This led us to design SMV δ 8. that can be a potential clean, green and sustainable mode of transport.”

The vehicle is designed using all existing technologies available to its maximum potential. The components and the structure of the vehicle are futuristic, keeping the design simple yet effective. The shape of the body was specially designed to effectively redirect the airflow around the car unlike present day’s cars. Furthermore, the frame and components are very light which helps in reducing fuel consumption. It also incorporates safety elements to ensure it suits traffic situation.

“Our faculty adviser, Dr. Atul Kumar Agrawal aided us with the technical expertise that needed in designing and building this prototype. Our university also provided us access to machinery available in the premises. We are  extremely grateful to GAIL (India) Limited for the sponsorship support without which the prototype would not have been a possibility,” said Gupta, when asked about the aid and help the team got in order to bring this project to life.

According to Dr. Yasmine Hilton, Chairman Shell Companies in India, “Indian students have been actively participating at Shell Eco-marathon since 2012 and we are proud of them for representing the country.  Platforms like these are a great learning opportunity to enhance technical know-how, maximise collaboration and interaction with peers from a variety of cultural backgrounds and develop their appreciation of safety. I hope that the students will continue to benefit from this initiative and contribute in developing sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenge”.

As per Shell, with the marathon, the company brings together today’s leading future innovators and people who are passionate about energy issues and asks them to think about sustainable solutions to the world’s energy problems. It is one of the world’s most innovative and challenging student competitions held annually in Asia, the  America and Europe.

The Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2016 is to be held from March 3-6 at Manila in Philippines in Rizal Park. The park will be converted into a track in which more than 100 student teams from countries across Asia and Middle East will participate and showcase their individual prototypes.

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